A White Man’s Chance

I keep seeing people online complaining that superhero movies and tv shows are now completely dominated by women and minorities.

So let’s take a peek at what domination looks like. Here are the stats from the past 20 years. (In some cases assigning a show to a particular category was a judgment call, open to reasonable challenge; but the overall shape of the info seems clear enough.)

Superhero / comic-book shows, Marvel or DC only, live-action only, tv-shows or theatrical movies only, 2000-present only:

One lead, white male:
Smallville (2001-2011)
Spider-Man (2002)
Daredevil (movie; 2003)
Hulk (2003)
The Punisher (movie; 2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Constantine (movie; 2005)
Batman Begins (2005)
Superman Returns (2006)
Ghost Rider (2007)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Iron Man (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
The Dark Knight (2008)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Jonah Hex (2010)
Constantine (tv series; 2014-2015)
Human Target (2010-2011)
Green Lantern (2011)
Thor (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Arrow (2012-present)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The Wolverine (2013)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Man of Steel (2013)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Flash (2014-present)
Ant-Man (2015)
Daredevil (tv series; 2015-18)
Preacher (2015-2019)
Deadpool (2016)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Lucifer (2016-present)
Logan (2017)
Iron Fist (2017-2018) [for season 1]
The Punisher (tv series; 2017-2019)
Legion (2017-2019)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Deadpool 2 (2018)
Venom (2018)
Krypton (2018-2019)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
Joker (2019)
Pennyworth (2019-present)

Mixed ensemble, leader(s) white and male:
X-Men (2000)
Mutant X (2001-2004)
X-Men 2 (2003)
Fantastic Four (2005)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Watchmen (movie; 2009)
X-Men: First Class (2011)
The Avengers (2012)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-present) [for seasons 1-5]
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Gotham (2014–2019)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Fantastic Four (reboot; 2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Legends of Tomorrow (2016-present) [for season 1]
Justice League (2017)
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
Inhumans (2017)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
The Boys (2019-present)
Titans (2019-present)
Doom Patrol (2019-present)

One lead, white but not male:
Elektra (2005)
Agent Carter (2015-2016)
Jessica Jones (2015-2019)
iZombie (2015-2019)
Supergirl (2015-present)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Captain Marvel (2019)
Batwoman (2019-present)

One lead, male but not white:
Blade II (2002)
Blade: Trinity (2004)
Blade: The Series (2006)
Luke Cage (2016-2018)
Black Panther (2018)
Aquaman (2018)
Black Lightning (2018-present)

One lead, neither white nor male:
Catwoman (2004)

Two leads, both white and male:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Two leads, one white and male, one white but not male:
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Two leads, one white and male, one neither:
Iron Fist (2017-2018) [for season 2]
Swamp Thing (2019)

Two leads, one white but not male, one male but not white:
Cloak & Dagger (2017-2019)

Three leads, all white but not male:
Birds of Prey (2002-2003)

Mixed ensemble, leader(s) white but not male:
Legends of Tomorrow (2016-present) [for season 2 onward]
Powerless (2017)

Mixed ensemble, leader(s) male but not white:
Runaways (2017-present)

Mixed ensemble, leader(s) neither white nor male:
Watchmen (tv series; 2019)

Mixed ensemble, one leader white and male, one white but not male:
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Mixed ensemble, one leader male and one not, neither one white:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-present) [for seasons 6-7]

Mixed ensemble, no clear leader(s) :
Suicide Squad (2016)
The Defenders (2017)
The Gifted (2017-2019)

15 thoughts on “A White Man’s Chance

  1. Pingback: A White Man’s Chance | Austro-Athenian Empire

  2. So what the complaint means is: there used to be mainly white men, a couple of women who were secondary characters to a white man and then got their own movies, and Wesley Snipes; now there’s actually some variety; booooooo social justice political correctness.


  3. Good post. Very thorough and makes the case. I remember feeling very discouraged when I saw films filled with entirely men with the exception of exactly one woman (usually the object of desire and not much more). I was married, briefly, to a 60s rock and roll musician who told me that female musicians just weren’t as interesting as male musicians. I don’t know. Who was Melissa Etheridge?


  4. The rock and roller was a 1960s Liberal. I would expect something like that out of the mouth of conservatives, but my experience over the years tells me that sexism lives on both sides of the aisle with one side very open about it, and the other simply lying about it to gain political favor.

    What good are the policies that do benefit women if Liberals also hold these points of view behind closed doors? In what way do they sell us out unbeknownst to us?

    As you’ll recall, Irfan, I worked for a Liberal think tank whose staff couldn’t wait to label Monica Lewinsky a whore within about an hour of the reports of you know what.

    I think people wonder why I don’t believe a word they say. 20 years in New York City will do it.


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